Saddiq Bey

How Starter Criteria Will Impact QOs For Potential 2024 RFAs

As we outlined in a glossary entry earlier today, the value of a qualifying offer for a player eligible for restricted free agency can increase or decrease depending on whether or not he meets the “starter criteria.”

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency — or if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency.

In many cases, the difference in the qualifying offer amounts is negligible. For instance, since the Sixers will almost certainly sign Tyrese Maxey to a long-term, maximum-salary contract this summer, it doesn’t really matter that he has bumped the value of his qualifying offer a little by meeting the starter criteria.

But in other cases, the adjusted qualifying offer amount could have a real impact on how a player’s free agency plays out by making his team more or less likely to actually issue the QO — and by making the player more or less likely to accept it.

Here are the players whose projected qualifying offers will change as a result of the starter criteria this season:

Players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 who met the starter criteria:

Bey, Maxey, and Quickley would have had qualifying offers worth $6,498,258, $6,259,588, and $6,128,004, respectively, if they had fallen short of the starter criteria. Instead, their QOs will each be worth $8,486,620.

As noted above, the QO change won’t have any effect on Maxey’s free agency. It’s unlikely to affect Quickley either, since the Raptors will be looking to sign him to a multiyear deal. But it could make a difference for Bey, who tore his ACL last month to bring an up-and-down season to an early end.

A healthy Bey would probably be a safe bet to to get his qualifying offer despite a disappointing season, but ACL recoveries are lengthy processes. If Bey isn’t going to play much – or at all – next season, will the Hawks want to risk him accepting a one-year qualifying offer worth $8.5MM that would set him up to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025?

That QO decision will likely depend on whether or not the Hawks envision Bey as part of their long-term future and whether they expect to reach a multiyear agreement with him.

Second-round picks or undrafted free agents who met the starter criteria:

An experienced veteran who will turn 29 later this year, Fontecchio spent the first part of his career playing in Europe and has just two years of NBA experience, so he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer. His qualifying offer got bumped from $3,806,090 to $5,216,324 when he met the starter criteria.

Fontecchio has been a bright spot in Detroit, averaging 15.4 points per game with a .426 3PT% in 16 games as a Piston. Based on those numbers – and his solid first-half play in Utah – the Italian wing is probably in line for a salary exceeding $5.2MM, which means the QO bump shouldn’t be a difference-maker.

Top-14 picks who won’t meet the starter criteria:

As a former No. 2 overall pick, Wiseman would have been in line for a qualifying offer worth $15,815,870 if he had made at least 41 starts or played 2,000 minutes. Because he fell short, his actual QO will be worth less than half that ($7,744,600).

Wiseman hasn’t shown a whole lot in Detroit, averaging just 6.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game this season across 59 appearances. But the Pistons will have a ton of cap room this offseason — maybe they’d be comfortable bringing back Wiseman for one more year and trying again to unlock his full potential if the price is just $7.7MM instead of $15.8MM. I’m still skeptical he’ll get that qualifying offer, but it’ll at least be a tougher decision now.

Toppin’s qualifying offer, meanwhile, will drop from $9,170,460 to $7,744,600, but I think the Pacers would have extended it either way. The former No. 8 overall pick has had his best season in 2023/24 as a reserve in Indiana, establishing new career highs in points per game (10.1), field goal percentage (57.2%), and three-point percentage (40.3%), among other categories.

The qualifying offer change for Lewis is marginal — his QO will dip by less than $200K from $7,913,687. He’s unlikely to receive it either way.

It’s worth noting that three other top-14 picks from the 2020 draft met the starter criteria this season. The qualifying offers for Bulls forward Patrick Williams and Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro will remain at $12,973,527 and $11,828,974, respectively. Those aren’t cheap, but I’d still be a little surprised if either team decides to pass on the QO.

Former Pistons guard Killian Hayes also met the starter criteria, but was later waived, so he won’t get a qualifying offer this June. If he had remained under contract and was eligible to receive one, it would have been worth $9,942,114.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Bey, Ball, Clifford, Heat

The Hawks’ surprise comeback victory against the Celtics on Monday served as testament, in part, to the growth of Atlanta’s developing young backups, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Hawks ultimately bested a top-seeded Boston team 120-118 after trailing by as many as 30 points. That marks the biggest rally in the league across the past 26 years. Williams notes that backups Vit Krejci and Bruno Fernando served as key pieces in the victory. The duo played big roles in part as a result of injuries to Bey, Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongwu and All-Star Trae Young.

“I mean, it’s a next-man mentality,” Krejci said. “We got a couple guys out. But we still believe that with the roster we have, right now, we can compete with anybody.”

The Hawks followed Monday’s victory up with a 120-106 win over the Trail Blazers on Wednesday and a 123-122 overtime victory over the Celtics tonight. Atlanta now finds itself in the midst of a four-game win streak. At 34-39, the team sits just one game behind the 35-38 Bulls for the East’s ninth seed.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks small forward Saddiq Bey‘s surgery on his torn left ACL on Thursday was a success, Atlanta has announced (Twitter link). The Hawks reveal that Dr. Riley Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York conducted the procedure, and that Bey will stay in New York for an estimated 10 days.
  • Star Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball was ruled out for the season earlier today due to his lingering right ankle ailment, which is especially bittersweet given his impressive play prior to that injury, writes Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. His 23.9 PPG and 1.8 SPG this year represented career highs, as did his 8.3 made field goals and 4.1 converted free throws. “I want to say the last nine games he played, he was top-five in scoring, top-five in assists and I think top two or three in crunch time scoring and crunch time assists,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “I think it was easy to get excited about and it’s also something he can build on… Look, injuries are a part of this league and, again, all I know is he’s been incredibly diligent. So, it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just the way it’s worked out.” The injury-prone Ball, whose maximum rookie-scale salary extension kicks in next season, has only played more than 51 games in a season once, during his lone All-Star year in 2021/22.
  • Several key Heat contributors could be back on the floor for the team soon, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Starting shooting guard Tyler Herro put in a shooting workout after practice on Thursday as he continues to gradually recuperate from his right foot medial tendinitis. “We don’t have a timeline [for a comeback], but yeah it’s definitely encouraging that he’s able to get on the wood and start to get ready,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Herro, who has missed 16 straight games since February 23. Reserve floor-spacing center Kevin Love has seen his status for Friday’s matchup with the lottery-bound Trail Blazers improved to probable as he continues to work his way back from a bruised right heel. Star swingman Jimmy Butler is also considered probable to return after sitting out the team’s Tuesday loss to the Heat with an illness.

Saddiq Bey Out For Season With Torn ACL

3:17pm: The Hawks confirmed in a press release (via Twitter) that Bey sustained a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the 2023/24 season. He’ll be undergoing surgery to repair the injury, per the team.

11:49am: A torn left ACL will sideline Hawks forward Saddiq Bey for the rest of the season, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). An MRI conducted this morning revealed the damage.

Bey suffered the injury early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against New Orleans, according to Lauren Williams of The Journal-Constitution. He collided with Trey Murphy on a fast break, turning his foot as he planted it on the court. Bey pounded his fist before grabbing his leg in pain.

He tried to stay in the game, Williams adds, but limped to the locker room after shooting his free throws.

Bey averaged 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in his first full season with Atlanta after being acquired from Detroit at last year’s deadline. He started 51 of the 63 games he appeared in, shooting 41.6% from the field and 31.6% from three-point range.

Bey, 24, is making $4.5MM this season and was on a path toward being a restricted free agent this summer. He met the “starter criteria” by making his 41st start last month, increasing the value of his qualifying offer from $6,498,258 to $8,486,620. The injury will obviously factor into the Hawks’ QO decision.

Southeast Notes: Bey, Windler, Wizards, Mosley

Hawks forward Saddiq Bey is no stranger to hard work, transforming himself into a more physical player who’s averaging a career-high 6.5 rebounds per game and is driving to the basket more often, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscriber link).

Williams dives into Bey’s regimen and work with trainer Myron Flowers. Bey, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason if he’s extended a qualifying offer, has played a variety of roles for the Hawks.

Bey is averaging 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest this season. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract, making $4.6MM this season, and recently met the “starter criteria” for potential restricted free agents, so if he’s extended a qualifying offer, it will be worth $8.5MM.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks signed Dylan Windler to a two-way contract on Monday, and he’s already seeing how he can mesh with the team, Williams writes in a separate story. “I mean, even just from the little bits I’ve seen and playing against the Hawks from time to time, seeing Coach Quin’s system, I think it’s a system that I fit right into it,” Windler said. “A lot of threes up, run, good spacing, crash the offensive glass, prioritize next possessions. And so I think it’s a system I good fit really well into.
  • The Wizards fell to Orlando on Wednesday, blowing a 21-point lead en route to a franchise record-tying 16th consecutive loss, The Washington Post’s Ava Wallace observes. “Yeah, we addressed [the streak],” point guard Tyus Jones said. “But six games, 16 games, you don’t want to lose many in a row, ever. Regardless of how many it is. At this point … we’ve got to be more desperate. We’ve got to want it more. We don’t want it enough right now. We’ve got to come out and by any means get a win, and that’s not the attitude we have right now.
  • The Magic, conversely, won their fifth straight game by beating Washington and are in fourth in the Eastern Conference. Josh Robbins of The Athletic explores the job Jamahl Mosley has done in Orlando this season, writing that he should at least be in the conversation for Coach of the Year. Paolo Banchero, Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony and Moritz Wagner are key contributors who praise Mosley’s ability. “He has some fire to him,” Wagner said. “Obviously, you need to have that. I think we all trust him. I think he trusts us to respond. He cares a lot. As players, we feel that when your coach cares about you. So, you take to heart what he says.

Saddiq Bey Meets Starter Criteria, Increasing QO

Hawks forward Saddiq Bey met the “starter criteria” for potential restricted free agents earlier this week by making his 41st start of the season.

An RFA-to-be meets the criteria – which dictates the value of his qualifying offer – when he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the final season of his contract, or when he averages 41 starts (or 2,000 minutes) in his last two seasons before free agency.

As a result of meeting the starter criteria, Bey will see the value of his qualifying offer increase by approximately $2MM. The No. 19 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Bey had been on track for a QO worth $6,498,258, but that figure will be bumped to $8,486,620, which is the equivalent of what the No. 9 pick in his draft class would receive.

It remains to be seen whether or not that modest bump will have a tangible impact on Bey’s free agency. If the Hawks issue the qualifying offer and the 24-year-old signs a multiyear contract, the QO will essentially just function as a placeholder until his new deal is completed. But he has been inconsistent this season, shooting a career-worst 31.6% from the three-point line, so it’s not as if he’s a lock for a massive payday, despite his promising skill set.

Perhaps the increase from $6.5MM to $8.5MM will give the Hawks – who have over $158MM in guaranteed money committed to 10 players in 2024/25 – some pause as they consider whether to issue that qualifying offer. And if Bey does receive a QO and doesn’t find an appealing multiyear deal right away, that extra $2MM could make accepting the one-year deal a more intriguing option.

Bey is the third potential restricted free agent to meet the starter criteria this season, joining Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey and Bulls forward Patrick Williams. Former Pistons guard Killian Hayes actually met it as well, but he was subsequently waived by Detroit, eliminating the possibility of restricted free agency this summer.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Rozier, Hawks, Magic, Bridges

Injuries have been a season-long issue for the Heat, who may have lost two more players in Sunday’s game, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. MRIs are scheduled today for Josh Richardson and Terry Rozier, creating more potential challenges as coach Erik Spoelstra works to develop a consistent lineup.

Richardson fell to the court and grabbed his right shoulder early in the second quarter, according to Chiang. After being helped up, he headed to the locker room for an X-ray that came back negative. He was wearing a sling after the game.

“I felt my shoulder pop out on the floor and then pop back in when I was laying on the ground,” Richardson said. “So thank goodness for that. But I’ll know more (Monday).”

Rozier was hurt midway through the third quarter when he landed awkwardly on his right leg on an attempted layup. Trainers had to help him to the locker room as well.

Chiang points out that if Richardson and Rozier have to miss significant time, that leaves Tyler Herro and two-way player Alondes Williams as the only healthy guards on Miami’s roster.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks general manager Landry Fields said signs of progress from the current roster convinced him to stand pat at the trade deadline, per Lauren Williams of The Journal-Constitution. Dejounte Murray was considered one of the top names on the market, but Fields believes there’s value in keeping the current team together. “We’ve seen an uptick with Onyeka (Okongwu),” he said. “We’ve seen an uptick with Jalen Johnson. We’ve seen an uptick with Saddiq Bey, and I can go right down the line even down to (the G League team in) College Park where, Kobe Bufkin is developing extremely well in that environment.”
  • The same approach was taken by Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman, whose team was also quiet at the deadline despite having “lengthy conversations” with some teams, according to Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. “We’re very happy with where we are right now from a big-picture standpoint,” Weltman said. “We weren’t going to be overly aggressive, we weren’t going to get out of our comfort zone and we certainly weren’t going to deviate from our plan.”
  • Hornets forward Miles Bridges, whose name was involved in trade rumors over the last several weeks, is relieved that deadline speculation is finally over, notes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Bridges said several times that he prefers to stay in Charlotte and ultimately decided to use his veto power to reject any deal the team might have made. “This was my first year dealing with all that,” he said of the deadline rumors. “Me, I’m happy so I can just focus on the season and focus on trying to get us some wins.”

Southeast Notes: Ball, Miller, Rozier, Bey

LaMelo Ball missed his second consecutive game due to right ankle soreness on Monday. The Hornets star guard admits his frequent absences have taken a toll mentally and that his primary focus is staying off the injury report, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer writes.

“Facts,” Ball said. “That’s pretty much my main thing.”

Ball appeared in just 36 games last season and has missed more than half of Charlotte’s games this season. He’s working with the team’s medical staff, hoping to find ways to keep him on the court more often.

“We are pretty much just trying to put a whole game plan together right now, get everything right, see what it’s going to be, see how my body is feeling, just see what’s the best solution moving forward,” he said.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Brandon Miller‘s ability to soak up knowledge has impressed Hornets coach Steve Clifford. The second pick of the draft is averaging 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. “People always look at these guys and think they’re the fastest, strongest, quickest — that’s not at all what it is,” Clifford told Shane Connuck of the Charlotte Observer. “In the NBA, guys that last learn better, they’re smarter, and they pick things up faster. That’s one of (Miller’s) big strengths.”
  • Terry Rozier is still trying to get acclimated to his Heat teammates, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald notes. The former Hornets guard scored just 26 points in his first three games with Miami before his 21-point outing against Phoenix on Monday. “He’ll figure it out,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s trying to fit in and I get that. We’re all saying the same thing. We want Terry to be Terry. He’s going to unlock other things for us. You can see the burst that he gives us, the rim pressure, which we need. That’s not just the head coach saying that, that’s his teammates saying that.”
  • Hawks forward Saddiq Bey becomes a restricted free agent after the season and he’s been enhancing his value as of late. He scored the game-winning basket on a putback against the Raptors on Sunday. Over the past four games, Bey is shooting 44.8% from the field while averaging 18.3 points and 8.5 rebounds, Lawrence Price III of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. “I don’t really have a specific mentality coming in besides just to play hard and just be grateful for the opportunity,” Bey said. “I try to just be the most multifaceted guy I can be…just try to affect the game in each and every way.”

Celtics Notes: Porzingis, Tatum, Holiday, Trade Deadline

The Celtics lost a home game for the first time this season on Friday night, but the matchup with Denver gave Kristaps Porzingis a taste of a championship atmosphere, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Weiss notes that not only was Porzingis the only starter on Friday who hasn’t been to the NBA Finals, he’s never won a playoff series. Matching up with Nikola Jokic in a potential Finals preview offered a hint of what Porzingis and his team will face when the playoffs begin.

“It’s just pure basketball talent,” Porziņgis said of Jokic. “Pure basketball mastermind. He’s the best player in the world and he’s just so crafty. Kind of almost makes you fall asleep like he’s not doing anything and just slides by you. He has so many tricks and so many things that he can do and then making so many tough shots that are not really tough for him because — I guess they’re not because he’s just been making them for a long time and you have to live with those.”

The Celtics acquired Porzingis last summer to fortify their frontcourt and provide size and shooting for another long playoff run. Injuries have been the main concern surrounding Porzingis throughout his career, but he has appeared in 31 of Boston’s first 42 games and he told Souichi Terada of MassLive before Friday’s contest that he’s happy with how he feels halfway through the season.

“Feeling great,” Porzingis said. “Of course, the medical staff is always on the more cautionary side of things and understanding that we have to look at the big picture. I’m feeling great and ready to go tonight.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Friday’s loss showed that the Celtics need more late-game options than just giving the ball to Jayson Tatum and expecting him to make a play, observes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Washburn, who points out that Tatum is shooting just 33.3% in clutch situations, calls on coach Joe Mazzulla to get Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and Porzingis more involved in the offense when games are tight.
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone believes the Celtics have a better chance to win the East this year because of their offseason additions, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Boston was aggressive on the trade market after falling in the conference finals last season, acquiring Porzingis and Jrue Holiday in separate deals. “Porzingis has length, shot-blocking and is a tough matchup because at the five he can step out and shoot the three,” Malone said. “He can roll with force, he can handle the ball. So, a tremendous addition. And Jrue Holiday, to me, is one of the best two-way players in the NBA.”
  • Finding another veteran guard or wing is likely to be the team’s priority heading into the trade deadline, Brian Robb of MassLive states in a mailbag column. He mentions the HawksSaddiq Bey as a player who would fit into Boston’s $6.2MM traded player exception and suggests the GrizzliesXavier Tillman if the Celtics opt to pursue a big man.

Southeast Notes: Muscala, Shamet, Hornets, Hawks

Wizards big man Mike Muscala, who was acquired from Boston this offseason in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, got the Latin phrase “carpe diem” (it translates to “seize the day”) tattooed on his right forearm this summer in honor of his late mother, who passed away prior to 2022/23. As Bijan Todd of Monumental Sports Network writes, the 11-year veteran tries to his embody his mother’s zeal for life by bringing her “positive energy” and gratitude, both on and off the court.

You owe [the starters], when you come in off the bench, just to have that extra energy, and try to, like you said, bring a spark,” Muscala said. “It doesn’t got to be anything crazy, but something to just kinda change the game up a little bit, figure out how you can fit into that. I feel like we got a lot of guys on this team that can do that, too. That’ll be a big thing for us throughout the season.”

Muscala, 32, has appeared in three of Washington’s four games, averaging 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.7 minutes per night. He’s playing on an expiring $3.5MM contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Wizards guard Landry Shamet, another offseason addition who was acquired from Phoenix in the Bradley Beal trade, made his ’23/24 season debut on Wednesday, recording eight points, two assists and a steal in 12 minutes. As Josh Robbins of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), Shamet had missed all of preseason and Washington’s first three games with a fractured left toe. Now on his fifth team in six seasons, Shamet could be a free agent next summer — his contract is only guaranteed for this season.
  • Slow starts to games and poor defensive rotations have plagued Charlotte through four games, with the Hornets off to a 1-3 start. Head coach Steve Clifford said he’s still trying to figure out how to juggle the rotations, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “That’s ever evolving,” Clifford said. “That’s every day. To be honest with you, I think once you start playing, I think if you talk to most coaches, that’s what you spend your time on. But I do have to be careful in that it still starts with you want the guys on your team to be in rhythm when they are playing. And you can’t just do, ‘We are going to play match-up basketball every night,’ because you can’t be taking guys out. I really think if a guy doesn’t play at least six minutes, you can’t expect him to play well.”
  • Hawks head coach Quin Snyder told reporters on Wednesday that minutes at power forward will be split between Saddiq Bey, Jalen Johnson and — to a lesser extent — De’Andre Hunter, who mostly plays the three. Neither Snyder nor the players are concerned with who starts, per Brad Rowland (Twitter link). “People get fixated on starting,” Snyder said as part of a larger quote. “It is what it is. You go watch a game in Europe, they start different lineups all the time and no one thinks anything of it. … I think, particularly in Saddiq and Jalen’s case because they’ve both started games, they haven’t thought about it the way the general public thinks about it. … And that’s refreshing, because I think it shows their commitment to the bottom line, which is not the stat sheet. It’s the wins.”

Eastern Notes: I. Smith, Strus, Hawks, Bulls, Dosunmu

Ish Smith‘s new contract with the Hornets is a one-year, minimum-salary deal that is fully non-guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Although Smith didn’t sign in the offseason, his salary won’t be prorated, since he finalized his deal on the very first day of the regular season. That means if he remains under contract through January 7, 2024, which would guarantee his full salary, he’ll make $3,196,448 while the Hornets carry a cap hit of $2,019,706. Until then, he’ll earn $18,370 per day, with no assurances for the full season.

Smith is one of three Hornets players without a fully guaranteed salary — Frank Ntilikina and JT Thor are also on non-guaranteed contracts.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Max Strus‘ debut with the Cavaliers couldn’t have gone much better, as the club’s new starting small forward racked up 27 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over Brooklyn. “I wish I could guarantee that every night, but I don’t think it’s going to be like that,” Strus said after the game, per Chris Fedor of “I think we have so many talented guys on this roster. It’s going to be anybody’s night any given game. One through 15, anybody can step up and play for us. That’s when our team is going to be very successful when we’re all enjoying each other’s success, and everybody is chipping in.”
  • After Jalen Johnson, De’Andre Hunter, and Saddiq Bey each played at least 29 minutes in the Hawks’ regular season opener, head coach Quin Snyder stressed that he expects all three forwards to get regular playing time and that he doesn’t necessarily need to roll with just two of them at the expense of the third. “It’s not a binary question of Jalen or Saddiq,” Snyder said (Twitter link via Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks). “Maybe tonight will make that clear.”
  • While he acknowledged that a blowout loss at home – followed by a players-only meeting – wasn’t exactly a great way to start the season, Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan said the important thing is how the team bounces back in its second game on Friday, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “You can sit up there and have a million conversations about something,” DeRozan said. “But it’s about how you respond and the mindset that I know how everybody came in here (to practice) with, how they feel. That’s how I know for a fact (Friday) will not be like (Wednesday). I can guarantee you that.”
  • The NBA has recognized Ayo Dosunmu for his work off the court, naming the Bulls guard the winner of the NBA Cares Bob Lanier Community Assist award, the league announced on Thursday in a press release.